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The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) has issued its notice of intent to re-adopt emergency regulation Section 46.3 to extend the effective date beyond the current expiration date of July 18, 2022.

This regulation addresses the ongoing need for telehealth medical-legal evaluations and office location flexibility resulting from various state and local public health safety measures related to COVID-19. These emergency regulations will help injured workers and employers continue to move their workers’ compensation claims towards a resolution and avoid additional and undue delay.

The Notice, Finding of Emergency and text of the regulations to extend the effective date of these emergency regulations will be filed for review with the state Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on July 8, 2022. The documents can be found on the DWC website.

Upon OAL approval and filing with the Secretary of State, the regulations are effective for an additional 90 days. This is the first re-adoption; DWC can issue a second if needed. The Division intends to commence rulemaking to make this regulation permanent within the next 90 days.

For information on the OAL procedure, and to learn how you may comment on the emergency regulations, go to OAL’s website.

(1) A QME or AME may complete a medical-legal evaluation through telehealth when a hands on physical examination is not necessary and all of the following conditions are met:

– – (A) There is a medical issue in dispute which involves whether or not the injury is AOE/COE (Arising Out of Employment / Course of Employment), or the physician is asked to address the termination of an injured worker’s indemnity benefit payments or address a dispute regarding work restrictions; and

– – (B) There is agreement in writing to the telehealth evaluation by the injured worker, the carrier or employer, and the QME. Agreement to the telehealth evaluation cannot be unreasonably denied. If a party to the action believes that agreement to the telehealth evaluation has been unreasonably denied under this section, they may file an objection with the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board, along with a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed to set the matter for a hearing;

– – (C) The telehealth evaluation conducted by means of a virtual meeting is consistent with appropriate and ethical medical practices, as determined by the QME and the relevant medical licensing board; and

– – (D) The QME attests in writing that the evaluation does not require an in person physical exam.

A notice will be posted at the DWC website when the re-adoption is approved.